What’s the Difference Between Veganism and Plant-Based?

A lot of people are choosing to completely get rid of animal products in their diet.  Because of this, a lot more plant-based options have shown up in various grocery stores and even on menus in restaurants. There are some individuals that choose to categorize their preferred diet as “plant-based,” while other people use “vegan”. What is the difference between being described as vegan versus eating plant-based? Let’s find out together.


Veganism usually leads people to not only change their diet, but they also change their overall lifestyle. It is defined as going through your daily life where you are not eating or using animal products nearly at all. You completely bypass eating animal products of any kind. This allows people to explore their comfort zone and see what they prefer in the process. However, the intention for being vegan is that there is no harm done to animals through the lifestyle shift you have made. 

Another thing to add about eliminating animal products from your life, is if you label yourself as a vegan, you also generally stay away from buying items that were tested on animals. This includes clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and personal items. Some vegans might also avoid medications or shots that have been tested on animals or if they contain animal byproducts. Vegans may also avoid palm oil because companies destroy habitats to get it. Ultimately, every person may have a different purpose for going vegan.

These are an example of foods vegans do not eat:

  • meat, any seafood, eggs, and dairy
  • food ingredients that companies get from animals, such as gelatin and beeswax

Vegans will also avoid:

  • clothing or other items that companies make from skins of animals, like leather and wool, or products created from feathers, and silk
  • All forms of entertainment that involve animals like the zoo and aquariums
  • Anything that has been tested on any animal


Being plant-based is just about changing your diet and not your lifestyle completely. Many people use “plant-based” to describe what they eat in their diet, which is either completely or mostly consistent with plant-based foods. On the other hand, some people might label themselves as plant-based and still eat meat or animal by-products.

Other people use “whole foods, plant-based” to explain their diet. Eating whole-plant foods describes the foods they are eating, which are not processed. A person who is on a whole foods, plant-based diet also stays away from oils and grains that are processed, while these types of foods might be eaten in a plant-based or vegan diet. The part titled “whole foods” is a very important difference. For example, some boxes of mac and “cheese”, “bacon”, and “chicken” tenders are vegan, however they would not belong to a diet that is whole foods, plant-based. Another distinction is to read the ingredient label. Whole foods typically have one ingredient. An apple is made out of an apple – simple as that, while vegan foods may have higher saturated fats from processed ingredients shown on the label.

Veganism is a state of mind centered on staying away from animal cruelty. When a person picks a plant-based diet, it most of the time is for other explanations, like how they feel about their health.

Even though there are some similarities in being vegan and eating plant-based, there are definitely some big differences between the two. Think about it this way, vegans are primarily against animal products, and plant-based followers are primarily against processed foods.

At Atma Society, we are your source for wellness events, courses, and resources. Whether you are plant-based or vegan, we want to help you on your journey. Sign up for our membership today to join our exclusive community of like-minded wellness experts.

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